Sales of antique furniture have increased globally by 32%

Antique Furniture
Items sold at auction are often of a quality that allows them to be handed down as heirlooms. For example, this Finn Juhl diplomat desk chair sold for £310.

Millennial’s make antiques cool again because of their green credentials say Barnebys the auction search engine.

The antique category furniture, design and mirrors has seen an increase globally by 32% in the last 12 months.

“Why cut down trees to build new furniture when there is so much beautiful antique and period furniture out there?”


Antique Desk


The pendulum is swinging upwards once more for antique furniture thanks to a growing fashion for sustainability in home decoration and furnishing, says Pontus Silfverstolpe, co-founder of the respected international search engine Barnebys which monitors 2,000 auction houses on its website which hosts more than one million items daily.

New generation of green homemakers

Anecdotal evidence from Barnebys indicates that a new generation of homemakers wishing to be green by purchasing pre-owned object and furniture is on the increase. Their desicon to buy antiques is motivated by the idea of uniqueness as well as the renewable issue of objects being reused over and over again. This goes in hand with the vintage trend: it is becoming fashionable to have unique vintage pieces rather than newly made ones.

At the Barnebys search engine, buying trends are quickly noted and it is evident that something rather remarkable is happening out there. After years of slump in brown furniture there are suddenly signs of green shoots of new interest in antique furniture. Barnebys say the signs are all there.


Antique dinning table” (different spelling in different countries) – the search word ”Antique dinning table” has increased in UK with 21% globally the last 12 months

Chippendale” – The search word ”Chippendale” has increased with 9% in UK and US the last 12 months.

Tiffany lamp” -The search word ”Tiffany lamp” has increased with 63% globally last 12 months.

Queen Anne” – The search word ”Queen Anne” has increased with 11% in UK last year

The reason is green. It is also because of the huge growth of a younger audience using auctions as part of shopping and buying behaviour online and the presence of young women among the shoppers in an area dominated by older men for centuries, say Barnebys.

Pontus Silfverstolpe, co-founder of Barnebys, comments:

“Today we can say that everyone who works in the auction world is working in the world’s most sustainable industry. Changes in consumer behaviour, led by Millennials is driving this new interest in using renewable pre-owned items. They know that antiques are better for the carbon footprint. We clearly see an increased interest from the younger generation of buyers who want unique, personal and quality items that last over time. It is just not sustainable for our world to continue to consume as we do today, and have done over the last few decades. So, today, many of the younger generation actively choose to furnish their homes with pre-owned furniture, which surprisingly is often cheaper than even Ikea furniture.”

For example, the George II-III desk (shown above), which sold recently for £380, is made from mahogany and dates all the way back to the 18th century. It has been used and then reused again and again for more than 300 years.

Furniture handed down as heirlooms

Items sold at auction are often of a quality that allows them to be handed down as heirlooms. For example, this Finn Juhl diplomat desk chair sold for £310. Finn Juhl, one of the leading figures in Danish design, created furniture known for its excellent quality and use of natural and long lasting materials. Although quality costs, it becomes far more affordable at auction: and had you gone to a retail store and spent £310, you would have wound up with a chair of far less quality.

Antique Chair

Finn Juhl diplomat desk chair sold for £310

In a recent Barnebys Online Auction Report the following trends were revealed which impact on green issues of renewability:

  • The online revolution means consumers have massively expanded the market – lower and middle sections in the main – and so now they set the rules.
  • Auctions are no longer the exclusive domain of the very rich. Massive growth expected at lower and middle section.
  • Lower hammered prices on average but the industry compensates with more things to sell in lower and mid segment by online distribution.
  • Why buy at auction? Consumers list the following reasons – better prices (value for money), unique items, quality, sustainability (i.e. Green issues), excitement (of bidding at auction) and investment value.
  • Think global, act local – the key to successful internationalisation is to adapt “locally’’ whilst sustaining a single global brand experience.
  • Online auction buyers are more frequent buyers than those who buy at traditional auctions.
  • Half of those who have bought at auction have only done so online.
  • More than half of Barnebys Millennial traffic (18-34 year olds) comes via mobile, yet many auctioneers’ websites are not mobile responsive.
  • Young people 18 to 35 are both frequent buyers and sellers (unlike previous generations who tend to be collectors and then finally sellers). As such, the young are more valuable clients across a lifetime.

Growing eco awareness among consumers

*Sustainability trumps investment when it comes to the reason why consumers buy at auction, especially for younger buyers.

• Guilt free shopping – the environmentally green aspect of buying at auction, recycling possessions, because it is not new manufacture, switches young buyers on.


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